Today we will look at how the good life results from healthy relationships -- and they result from doing good in our talk!
Wait a minute....we've already covered our walk. Isn't our talk just the confession to others that we have a Savior and Friend that they need to know?
Hang in with me!
Let's look at verse 10 of our passage, in fact, let's zero in on the latter half of the verse!
Well, whatdya know? Peter is talking about how we "do good" in our talk!
We usually think of our walk backing up our talk.....Peter is reversing it here. Our lips must back up the good deeds in our lives if we want to enjoy the good life.
How do we do that?
Well, first off, we are not going to retaliate when we are verbally abused. Verse ten supports what Peter told us in verse nine....not to retaliate when we are insulted, but rather to give a blessing instead. To speak well to the other person, or to bring good to them.
Whoaaaaa! Does that run in the opposite direction of what the world says? I think so! The world tells us, "If someone abuses you verbally, you should stand up for yourself! Assert yourself! Let them know that you have more self-respect than that! In fact, if you can think of something worse to say about them, go for it!!"
But God tells us, "If someone insults you, bless them. Say something kind to them in return." Jesus said, "Bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:28) And I can tell you from experience, it AIN'T EASY!!! But it IS what God commands us to say.
Now, please, hang in there with me; Peter is not talking here about clarifying misunderstandings through reasoned conversation. There are needful times for us to state our points of view and speak the truth in a calm way.
We're talking about the kind of situation when a person is being purposefully mean and abusive. He or she is trying their best to pick a fight. Or to bait us into losing our cool. Peter says:
1. Don't respond to abuse with more abuse.
2.To try to "top" the put-down or the insulting words.
3. Don't call them names because they called you names.
4. Don't be even more sarcastic than they.
Instead......respond with kind words.
The next thing Peter tells us to to stop our lips from speaking deceitfully. The word translated there means to "bait or snare." It refers to when we say something that is calculated to deceive, mislead, or to distort the facts. Deception is a barrier to healthy relationships, because it destroys trust. It may be a deliberate attempt to "bend" the facts to suit our side of the story. Or perhaps we leave out certain facts so the person gets a slightly skewed view of what happened. (We don't need to pat ourselves on the back and say, well we didn't lie. It's still deceitful!)
There are always going to be situations where it is TRULY HARD to be honest. Do we tell a dying relative about their condition? That's pretty serious, and will require prayer. Do we tell our friend about their new dress that doesn't really flatter them? That's not as serious, and may just require some tact and some diplomacy. We need to pray for wisdom and pray for the Spirit to lead us!
So, we know now that we should NOT retaliate against people picking fights, and we should NOT be deceitful. Two negatives......
Here is the positive: doing good in our talk means blessing others with words that build them up. We should speak well of others and to others -- giving a blessing. Look at these verses:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)Wow! If we would apply this in our homes, and in our churches.....not trading insults, not deceiving, but speaking words that build up the other person.....well, there wouldn't be much need for marriage and family counselors, would there!!
Seriously, let's think about our speech in our families this past week -- how much of what came from our lips was critical or angry, or even sarcastic? How much was aimed at blessing and building up the family members?
I know that in some families it's considered OK to kid around, to use humorous jokes and digs, to banter back and forth. But I think, even in jest, trading put-downs is not building up the other person. (Just sayin'....)
Are you thinking....."wait a minute! You've been telling me to deny myself, not retaliate, bless those who insult me, and then on top of all those, you want me to be harmonious, sympathetic, kindhearted, and humble! Who's going to look out for me? It's a jungle out there! Who is going to protect me if I act that way?"
He will.....the Lord and Creator will. His eyes are on the righteous, and His ears don't just hear, it says they are attentive to our prayers. Some synonyms for attentive are "watchful," "vigilant,".... and if we look at "vigilant," it means "on guard." Our responsibility is to please the Lord by doing good in our walk and in our talk. It is He Who is responsible for guarding us, for protecting us and for answering our prayers.
(II Thessalonians 3:3)The good life?
That comes from having healthy relationships.... first, a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. Then, having good relationships with the family and friends that God has blessed us with, here on earth. Thirdly, having good relationships with acquaintances and unbelievers, and having the opportunity to witness to them.
Keeping those relationships healthy and balanced, and in His will -- all of that is at the center of the "good life." It's essential if we desire to glorify God, and to enjoy His blessings.
Perhaps this passage (I Peter 3:8-12) is a good one for us to memorize. Then we will remember it all our days, and we'll find ways to apply it to our relationships.....
......and that's how to live the good life!